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Companies That Give Back Do Better

Local executive John Asdell explains why corporate social responsibility is a win-win
John Asdell, San Diego regional vice president at Robert Half

By Annamaria Stephens

When it comes to attracting top talent, corporate social responsibility programs give companies an edge. “Many job seekers include the charitable activities of a prospective employer among their top priorities,” says John Asdell, San Diego regional vice president at Robert Half, an international human resources consulting firm. “It’s especially important to younger generations, like Generation Z.” Asdell explains why giving back is now an essential part of competitive hiring packages.

Annamaria Stephens: Why has corporate social responsibility become such a significant trend?

John Asdell: In a survey by our company, we found that 61 percent of workers believe that participating in philanthropic activities enhances their wellness—for example, by helping them find better work/life balance. This, in turn, allows them to be more effective while on the job. Happy workers are more likely to stay with your organization for the long term.

AS: Do you have advice for interested employers?

JA: First and foremost, investment in a social responsibility program must be genuine. People will see through lip service. Find organizations and causes that align with your business values.

AS: How can companies narrow down the options?

JA: Ask employees for their recommendations, or consider setting up a formal committee to research organizations. They can investigate which nonprofits would benefit most from donations of time and other resources.

AS: What’s an easy way to start small and local?

JA: There are service opportunities available throughout the year, from park cleanups and food drives to after-school programs and athletic events. Keep in mind that activities don’t have to be costly or time consuming.

AS: Why do you think volunteering is so popular?

JA: When you’re able to be hands on, you can see the results of your efforts and see how an organization’s mission matters. It’s also a way to work with coworkers outside the office, and can be great for team building and boosting morale. Some companies offer volunteer grants as part of their matching gifts program.

AS: How can companies encourage employees to do more?

JA: Consider offering “volunteer days,” or put a number of hours volunteered toward additional vacation time. And a little friendly competition never hurts, such as incentives for teams who collect the most items or volunteer the most hours.

AS: What role should people at the top play?

JA: Remember the old standby—lead by example. By showing up, you will encourage participation, which ultimately supports employee morale. Leaders can build their networks through volunteering. It may even lead to membership on the board of a local organization.

AS: Are there other perks?

JA: Philanthropic efforts can give your company positive exposure in the communities where your employees live and work. It builds goodwill for your business. People want to buy from businesses they know and feel good about. It builds affinity for your brand.

AS: How important is corporate social responsibility at Robert Half?

JA: Our philanthropy initiative, Leading by Example, is rooted in our mission to be socially responsible corporate citizens and active participants in our communities. Education and workforce development are the cornerstones. Our employees can also determine what issues matter most to them personally and take the lead with our support.

AS: What’s Robert Half’s most popular program?

JA: For our company’s annual suit drive, participating offices from across North America collect interview-appropriate clothing and accessories for economically disadvantaged job seekers. We donated nearly 24,000 items last year, which brings the 15-year total to more than 320,000 items.

CSR Superstars

Three Local Companies That Give Big

Mission Federal Credit Union

With every new checking account opened, Mission Fed gives $25 to charity, but their outreach goes far beyond that. Mission Fed also supports nonprofits like San Diego Blood Bank, San Diego Habitat for Humanity, and local schools. They even received a 2017 Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Ethics.


In the last decade, Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach program has helped over 12 million people by bringing wireless technology to underserved communities worldwide. Qualcomm also focuses on developing STEM programs in American schools, specifically for girls; over 13,300 students have benefited from their hands-on Thinkabit school labs.

Wells Fargo

Thanks to a company-wide pledge to improve the communities they do business in, Wells Fargo has invested $286.5 million and over two million hours in 2017 alone. They also meet 100 percent of their electricity needs through renewable energy, and awarded nearly $5 million to diverse scholarship programs last year.

Companies That Give Back Do Better

John Asdell, San Diego regional vice president at Robert Half

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